College Basketball Odds & Betting Picks (Tuesday, March 3): Our Staff’s 5 Favorite Bets
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images. Pictured: Xavier Tillman
- Looking for college basketball picks? Our staff sorted through Tuesday's 40-plus games to find some betting value.
- While our staff's bets are geared toward games in the Big Ten, we've also taken a crack at matchups in the Horizon League and Sun Belt.
- See all their bets below.
College basketball conference tournaments start on Tuesday, and many other leagues are still finishing out the regular season with conference titles on the line.
Things are about to get fun.
Our staff broke down Tuesday’s 43-game card and arrived at one favorite play each. Here’s what they’re betting.
College Basketball Betting Picks
- Odds: Michigan State -1 at Penn State
- Over/Under: 144
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
I’ll typically invest in strong home spots, but this one actually favors the Spartans, coming off a road win and cover at Maryland on Saturday.
Michigan State delivered its most physical performance of the season against the Terps, led by big man Xavier Tillman (14 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists). Sparty is playing its best ball at the right time, and it faces Penn State for a second time this season — a game in which Tom Izzo’s crew looked nothing like its current self.
The Nittany Lions covered as 8.5-point dogs and won straight-up, aided by getting to line more often (19) than MSU (14) and generating 11 offensive boards.
But look for a tenacious Spartans team, manufacturing the sixth-highest offensive and defensive rebounding rate, respectively, in Big Ten play, to control the glass and tempo as a result against a PSU unit that struggles in that department.
I’d also expect some Penn State 3-point regression after shooting 42.7% from the perimeter in its last meeting vs. the Spartans, who are allowing the seventh-lowest 3-point clip (28.4%) in the country, in the previous meeting.
While Pat Chambers’ bunch will be playing with desperation after dropping three of its past four games outright, look for MSU to get revenge in a buy-low spot.
Pick: Michigan State -1
- Odds: Milwaukee at Youngstown State -5
- Over/Under: 143
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN+
Youngstown State will try to beat a team twice in a matter of four days. The Penguins traveled to UW-Milwaukee Panther arena to secure a victory on Saturday and force Milwaukee into a first-round road game in the Horizon League Tournament. The loss was a heartbreaker for Milwaukee, which led with just 40 seconds remaining in the game.
These teams have played down to the wire on two separate occasions, the first coming on Jan. 23 in an overtime victory for Milwaukee. Both teams have split victories on the road against each other, making the current spread too many points for Round 3 between the Penguins and Panthers.
The box score of both games produced similar results with terrible perimeter shooting, even distribution of rebounds, and a similar number of personal fouls. Milwaukee is on a five-game losing streak, but have lost by an average of just 3.8 points per game.
The key to this game is how many times Youngstown State gets to the free throw line.
Milwaukee has an opponent point distribution rank of 21st in the nation from free throw line. Youngstown State shoots just shy of 70% from the line, but made it to the line 26 times in each contest against Milwaukee. If the Panthers limit the number of personal fouls, the Horizon tournament will start with an upset.
Pick: Milwaukee +5
- Odds: IUPUI at Illinois Chicago -8.5
- Over/Under: 147.5
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN+
Steve McClain’s Illinois-Chicago team has the best statistical defense in the Horizon League. The Flames rate first in adjusted defensive efficiency, effective field goal percentage, defensive rebounding, and 3P% allowed among Horizon teams. They’ve won three of their last four games including a 30-point destruction of Northern Kentucky on the road.
If the Flames get hot (no pun intended) from 3P range, it is usually a long night. They shot 36.4% from beyond the arc against Horizon opponents, and went 11 of 20 from deep in that Northern Kentucky win.
IUPUI has allowed a league-worst 39.5% from 3P to their opponents.
With three senior guards in Tarkus Ferguson (14.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.9 apg), Marcus Ottey (11.6 ppg, 43.6% 3P), and Godwin Boahen (10.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg), the Flames features senior leadership and versatile scoring options.
IUPUI has lost eight of its last nine games with four consecutive road losses in league play. It’s hard to trust the Jaguars to cover on the road with a 64.4% team free-throw percentage.
Illinois-Chicago is a dark horse in the Horizon tourney and has the makeup of a dangerous lower-seeded team as a result of solid defense and blowup 3P ability. Look for the Flames to put this game away early and earn a double-digit home win in the opening round of the Horizon League Tournament.
Pick: Illinois Chicago -8.5
- Odds: Texas State at South Alabama +1.5
- Over/Under: 133.5
- Time: 8 p.m. EST
I’ve been higher on the Jags than the market for almost the entirety of the season and have been riding them during their seven-game winning streak. Not all senior nights are created equal and can even work against teams, but I think this senior night for South Alabama, one of the most experienced and senior-laden teams in the country, will work in its favor.
South Alabama will get Texas State on the road after a draining road three-overtime win over the weekend in which four of their starters played over 40 minutes, including a whopping 53 minutes for star Nijal Pearson.
I make this line South Alabama -1.5 so will gladly take the point/point and a half in a good spot and a good matchup as Texas State does not have the shooters to exploit the South Alabama’s zone and the Jags should get to the line at will on senior night.
Pick: South Alabama +1.5
- Odds: Purdue at Iowa-5.5
- Over/Under: 142.5
- Time: 9 p.m. ET
- TV: B1G Ten Network
This time of year, it’s valuable to understand the format of each conference’s postseason tournament. Some provide slight advantages to their top seeds; others offer double-byes that impact teams’ odds of cutting down the nets significantly. This factors into late-season motivation.
The Big Ten Tournament has three tiers. Seeds 11 through 14 are faced with the herculean task of winning five games in five days. It’s no surprise that no team has ever accomplished that feat.
The next tier features teams 5-10, who would need to win four in four days. Then we come to the double-bye for teams seeded 1-4. This is the desired place to be if you’re hoping to win the Big Ten Tournament. It is worth noting, however, that two of the five champions in the expanded format have won four games in four days (including Michigan twice).
Which brings us to Iowa. The Hawkeyes still have a chance to elbow their way into a top four-seed, should they win out and have either Wisconsin, Illinois or Michigan State stumble down the stretch.
They’re also trying to avenge their worst Big Ten loss in years when they fell 104-68 at Purdue. It feels strange to see one team beat another by 36 points and then be favored in the rematch. This is the betting market sending the public a message.
Since that Boilermaker blowout, Purdue and Iowa have headed in opposite directions. Purdue has failed to leverage its outsized home-court advantage, and may finish the season with a losing record. Iowa, on the other hand, is 4-2 in its last six with ranked wins over Penn State and Ohio State in Iowa City.
This also represents an opportunity for Luka Garza to push his Player of the Year candidacy across the finish line. The Hawkeye big is top 10 in three key efficiency metrics (Game Score, Win Score, NBA Efficiency) and is averaging nearly 24 points and 10 boards a night.
Look for a monster night from Garza and the Hawkeyes as they lay a big number on Purdue in this rematch.
Pick: Iowa -5.5